ALSO READCongress raps government for 'bypassing' Rajya Sabha in Budget session Congress MP makes strong pitch for state funding of polls Is Congress-Trinamool moving towards an alliance in Bengal? (News Analysis) Mamata backs Congress in Rajya Sabha polls Black Money menace: Centre launches 'Operation Clean Money' portal
Eminent journalists, industrialists, parliamentarians, political commentators deliberated whether 'It isn't in our DNA to be honest or clean' organised by 'The Statesman' this evening.
Commenting on the topic, Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta said, "Yes there is a context - corruption, misuse of money. But did it happen overnight? What struck me most, yes if there is a major problem, then do something."
"If we have the appetite to consult problems after recognising it," he said.
"Does not it mean we need the danda all the time?" Dasgupta asked.
"None says we overcome challenges in a day, none acknowledges unless you take the plunge, take the process," he said.
"Regardless of how Modi is remembered in posterity he will be remembered he rolled back wheels of corruption. He started the process of rolling back," Dasgupta said.
In his speech, RS MP and Trinamool Congress leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said, "In the DNA of 55.3 per cent Indians, living in multidimensional poverty, there is not an iota of dishonesty. There is no dishonesty in the DNA of middle or lower middle class people."
"But think about the richest Indians, who comprise the microscopic minority of 1 per cent population, and who own 58 per cent assets of India. It can't be through normal route, he said.
"But none talks about them - either they are corporate honchos or key political figures and their DNAs," he said scathingly.
Roy also said, "It is not clear how much black money has been unearthed 10 years after the move even as RBI itself says 99 per cent of demonetised currency has been deposited."
Discussion coordinator and veteran sports journalist Kishore Bhimani said, despite touching on certain areas there was no jingoistic fervour in the discussions and that was most important.
"Irrespective of the government in power we must say cities like Kolkata look cleaner and that is the positive side in present age. We must conclude on that note," he said.
Industrialist Harshavardhan Neotia was among other speakers.
The daily's Editor Ravindra Kumar said, "The Statesman Awards for Rural Reporting and the Cushrow Irani Prize for Environmental Reporting are being given away this year against the backdrop of mounting intolerance for honest journalism."
V P Nisar of Mangalam daily in Malayalam got the first prize, Richard Joseph of Rashtra Deepika publication in Malayalam got the second prize and Biswajit Das, journalist of Bartaman, a Bengali daily bagged the third prize in rural reporting.